Malini Rudra finished last season on a tear and in her first season as Syosset’s number one golfer, the freshman has picked up where she left off.
Rudra, Newsday’s Athlete of the Week, tied for sixth in the state tournament at SUNY Delhi and helped lead the Braves to a second straight Long Island championship last June. Playing in her third season on varsity, Rudra shot a 1-over 36 on Monday to lead undefeated Syosset over Garden City Maroon.
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“It was a huge confidence boost. It was a turning point that motivated me to work even harder,” Rudra said of her second trip to the state tournament, which she said played a role in her successful summer.
After the state tournament, Rudra went on to win five Junior Met PGA events en route to a third-place finish in the LI Junior Met PGA Player of the Year standings.
Rudra’s success in the top spot for Syosset follows Liz Choi’s dominant run for the Braves, in which she won four consecutive county titles and took third in the state tournament last year.
“Liz left a really big legacy and she really mentored me and helped me get in a position to fill her big shoes,” Rudra said.
“She took Malini under her wing,” Syosset coach Steve Naranjo said of Choi, who now plays for William & Mary. Naranjo also said that Rudra was undaunted by the prospects of taking Choi’s role and actually embraced the challenge.
“She’s definitely living up to that legacy, and you can see it in her demeanor,” he said. “She’s always smiling, always in a good mood.”
Naranjo also said Rudra “plays and acts like an upperclassman,” and this approach has helped her thrive. “She’s so meticulous in the way she approaches the game. She’s so consistent.”
In addition to her individual success, Rudra will play an instrumental role in helping Syosset challenge for a third straight Long Island championship.
“That is definitely a goal of ours,” she said. “We’re really aiming for that and we’re not taking any match for granted.”
Aside from continuing the legacy of Syosset golfers, she is also continuing her family’s tradition in the sport. Both her parents play, and her older sister, Rohini, played for Syosset until 2012. Rudra said her family’s support has been instrumental.
“It’s the best thing in the world, having my parents always cheering me on,” Rudra said. “Even if I have a bad day, they’ll be the first ones to cheer me up. Since they play golf, they motivated me to play in the first place. Having all these people in my life motivating me has really helped me.”